Responding to rapid population growth in Egypt

Responding to rapid population growth in Egypt

Egypt’s rapid population growth is putting pressure on the country’s economy and environment and is threatening the health and well-being of its people. From 1994 to 2014, the population grew by 46 percent, from 60 million to nearly 88 million—an increase of more than the total populations of Syria and Lebanon combined.

Only about half of Egypt’s population ages 25 and older was employed in 2012, and among those who were employed, 14 percent were still living below the international poverty level of less than US$2 per day. With its current population growth of 2.6 percent a year, the Egyptian government faces challenges in providing for the basic needs of its citizens, including adequate housing, sanitation, health care, education, and jobs, and in narrowing the gaps in health and economic security between rich and poor. Moreover, Egypt is faced with shortages of fresh water and energy, which are necessary for sustaining human health, food production, and economic development.

This policy brief examines population trends in Egypt and the reasons for its long period of rapid population growth. It argues that Egypt should embrace the principles of sustainable development and invest in girls’ and women’s health and well-being, particularly among the poor. The UN’s upcoming new development goals for 2030, the SDGs, give Egypt another opportunity to assess its policies, align them with the emerging global consensus, and successfully implement them.

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